It’s bad enough when someone tags a photo of you on Facebook that you wish you could burn and erase from all of eternity…Yes, I actually did wear that outfit in high school, and yes, I did have a perm…And although it’s usually more fun to tag others than be tagged, a new feature called “Tag Suggestions” is something that every Facebook user should be aware of.
Using facial recognition technology, Facebook automatically detects facial features with every new photo that is uploaded and matches them with people in other photos that may have been tagged. Even more intrusive is the feature’s “group tagging” function which lets users type in someone’s name and then apply tags to multiple photos containing that person – without that person’s consent.
Facebook’s blog post announcing the feature’s roll out introduces this feature as making it much easier to tag batches of photos and multiple people all at once:
Now if you upload pictures from your cousin's wedding, we'll group together pictures of the bride and suggest her name. Instead of typing her name 64 times, all you'll need to do is click "Save" to tag all of your cousin's pictures at once. By making tagging easier than before, you're more likely to know right away when friends post photos.
While it may indeed make it easier to “batch tag” automatically, what concerns me is the instant increase of photos every Facebook user can potentially be tagged in, unbeknownst to them. This is especially worrisome for teenagers who may not be as cautious about maintaining their online reputations and/or may not even realize they are being tagged in compromising photos.
While users can always untag themselves and these photos are only shared among your friends, I don’t like that this new feature is set as the default. It must be disabled for you to avoid being automatically tagged in photos all over Facebook. Disabling it is done in a few easy steps:
1. When you’re on your profile page, pull down the “Account” drop down menu in the top right corner
2. Select "Privacy Settings"
3. Click on "Custom," and then "Customize Settings” (little pencil icon)
4. Find the section entitled, "Things others share" and the line item, “Suggest photos of me to friends." Click "Edit Settings"
5. A window pops up that says, "Photos: Suggest Tags." Switch it to “Disabled” and then “Okay” to save your settings.
6. You are now safe from being automatically tagged.
If you have a teenage Facebook user in your household, I highly recommend you walk them through disabling the setting on their profile as well.
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